Posted: February 9th, 2023

Irregular maritime migration by sea: the Venezuelan – Caribbean route

Irregular maritime migration by sea: the Venezuelan – Caribbean route
Irregular maritime migration, also known as “illegal” or “unauthorized” migration, refers to the movement of individuals across international borders by sea without proper documentation or authorization. One particularly significant route for irregular maritime migration is the Venezuelan-Caribbean route, which has seen a significant increase in the number of migrants in recent years. In this paper, we will discuss the factors driving this migration, the challenges faced by migrants, and the efforts being made to address the issue.
A factor driving the increase in irregular maritime migration on the Venezuelan-Caribbean route is the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela. The country has been facing severe economic and political instability for several years, with hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages, and widespread poverty. This has led to a mass migration of Venezuelans in search of better economic opportunities and political stability.
Another contributing factor is the increase in criminal activity, including drug trafficking and human smuggling, in the region. Criminal organizations have taken advantage of the political and economic instability in Venezuela and the Caribbean to increase their activities, making the journey more dangerous for migrants.
The challenges faced by migrants on the Venezuelan-Caribbean route are numerous. One significant challenge is the risk of drowning or other accidents while at sea. Many migrants attempt the journey in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels, which increases the risk of capsizing or sinking. Additionally, migrants often face abuse and exploitation at the hands of human smugglers, who may abandon them at sea or extort them for additional money.
Another challenge is the lack of proper documentation and the risk of detention or deportation upon arrival. Many migrants do not have the proper documentation to enter their destination country legally, which increases the risk of being detained and deported.
Efforts are being made by regional and international organizations to address the issue of irregular maritime migration on the Venezuelan-Caribbean route. One example is the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which has been working to improve regional cooperation on migration issues, including the rescue and protection of migrants at sea. Additionally, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have been working to provide assistance and protection to migrants in the region.
Another initiative is the search and rescue operation of the Colombian Navy, which have been rescuing thousands of migrants that are stranded in the Caribbean. They have also been working to prevent human trafficking and to provide assistance to the migrants.
The increase in irregular maritime migration on the Venezuelan-Caribbean route is driven by the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela, as well as the increase in criminal activity in the region. The journey is dangerous and challenging for migrants, who face risks of drowning, abuse, and deportation. Efforts are being made by regional and international organizations to address the issue, such as the Caribbean Community, the IOM, and the UNHCR. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of migration, such as poverty and political instability in Venezuela, and to ensure the safety and protection of migrants.

CARICOM. (2021). Migration in the Caribbean Community. Retrieved from
International Organization for Migration. (2021). Venezuela Migration and Refugee Crisis. Retrieved from
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2021). Venezuela: Regional Overview. Retrieved from

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